Armiger), and to feel that this lovely Doone was a Papist, and therefore of higher religion—as all our parsons think—and that she knew exactly how he ought to do all the service, of which he himself knew little; I wish to express my firm belief that all these things together turned Parson Bowden’s head a little, and made him look to me for orders.

My mother, the very best of women, was (as I could well perceive) a little annoyed and vexed with things. For this particular occasion, she had procured from Dulverton, by special message to Ruth Huckaback (whereof more anon), a head-dress with a feather never seen before upon Exmoor, to the best of every one’s knowledge. It came from a bird called a flaming something—a flaming oh, or a flaming ah, I will not be positive—but I can assure you that it did flame; and dear mother had no other thought, but that all the congregation would neither see nor think of any other mortal thing, or immortal even, to the very end of the sermon.

Herein she was so disappointed, that no sooner did she get home, but upstairs she went at speed, not even stopping at the mirror in our little parlour, and flung the whole thing into a cupboard, as I knew by the bang of the door, having eased the lock for her lately. Lorna saw there was something wrong; and she looked at Annie and Lizzie (as more likely to understand it) with her former timid glance; which I knew so well, and which had first enslaved me.

‘I know not what ails mother,’ said Annie, who looked very beautiful, with lilac lute-string ribbons, which I saw the Snowe girls envying; ‘but she has not attended to one of the prayers, nor said “Amen,” all the morning. Never fear, darling Lorna, it is nothing about you. It is something about our John, I am sure; for she never worries herself very much about anybody but him.’ And here Annie made a look at me, such as I had had five hundred of.

‘You keep your opinions to yourself,’ I replied; because I knew the dear, and her little bits of jealousy; ‘it happens that you are quite wrong, this time. Lorna, come with me, my darling.’

‘Oh yes, Lorna; go with him,’ cried Lizzie, dropping her lip, in a way which you must see to know its meaning; ‘John wants nobody now but you; and none can find fault with his taste, dear.’

‘You little fool, I should think not,’ I answered, very rudely; for, betwixt the lot of them, my Lorna’s eyelashes were quivering; ‘now, dearest angel, come with me; and snap your hands at the whole of them.’

My angel did come, with a sigh, and then with a smile, when we were alone; but without any unangelic attempt at snapping her sweet white fingers.

These little things are enough to show that while every one so admired Lorna, and so kindly took to her, still there would, just now and then, be petty and paltry flashes of jealousy concerning her; and perhaps it could not be otherwise among so many women. However, we were always doubly kind to her afterwards; and although her mind was so sensitive and quick that she must have suffered, she never allowed us to perceive it, nor lowered herself by resenting it.

Possibly I may have mentioned that little Ruth Huckaback had been asked, and had even promised to spend her Christmas with us; and this was the more desirable, because she had left us through some offence, or sorrow, about things said of her. Now my dear mother, being the kindest and best-hearted of all women, could not bear that poor dear Ruth (who would some day have such a fortune), should be entirely lost to us. ‘It is our duty, my dear children,’ she said more than once about it, ‘to forgive and forget, as freely as we hope to have it done to us. If dear little Ruth has not behaved quite as we might have expected, great allowance should be made for a girl with so much money. Designing people get hold of her, and flatter her, and coax her, to obtain a base influence over her; so that when she falls among simple folk, who speak the honest truth of her, no wonder the poor child is vexed, and gives herself airs, and so on. Ruth can be very useful to us in a number of little ways; and I consider it quite a duty to pardon her freak of petulance.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.